Burt Shavitz, Co-founder and Face of Burt's Bees, Dies at 80

Although he left his namesake company in 1999, Shavitz remained, inextricably, the life of the brand.
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Eliza Brooke
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Although he left his namesake company in 1999, Shavitz remained, inextricably, the life of the brand.
Burt Shavitz at the New York premiere of "Burt's Buzz." Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

Burt Shavitz at the New York premiere of "Burt's Buzz." Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

Burt Shavitz, the co-founder and bearded face of Burt's Bees, passed away over the weekend, aged 80.

Born in Manhattan, Shavitz worked as a photographer for Time and Life before relocating to Maine and taking up beekeeping. The business that made him famous kicked off in the 1980s when he and co-founder Roxanne Quimby began selling beeswax candles and honey, later expanding into the natural ingredient-focused personal care products that are now a drugstore mainstay. 

Although Burt's Bees continued to pay Shavitz for his services as a brand ambassador, Quimby bought him out of the company for roughly $130,000 in 1999. In 2007, Burt's Bees sold to Clorox for $913 million. The play created a rift between the co-founders; even last year, Shavitz told the New Yorker that he hadn't spoken with Quimby in a while and didn't care to do so.

Still, it's hard to imagine that the woodsy man who lived in a small house without heated water was too troubled about missing out on the money itself. As Shavitz said in the 2013 documentary "Burt's Buzz," "I had no desire to be an upward mobile rising yuppie with a trophy wife, a trophy house, a trophy car."

"A good day is when no one shows up, and you don't have to go anywhere."